peek-under-the-hoodI’m always baffled when organizations don’t want to “look under the hood”.  How can they know what to mail to their donors without first taking a close look at what’s been going on?

This summer marks 30 years since the movie Risky Business was released. Tom Cruise has real staying power, the kind of staying power that direct mail has in marketing and fundraising.

Many of Hollywood’s films follow a standard formula for success. That’s mostly true in direct marketing, but caution: there is no guarantee of direct mail success without first “looking under the hood.”

For example, some will tout the value of applying a 1st class stamp on reply envelopes, which has shown to increase response rates over a standard Business Reply Envelope (BRE). But a BRE requires the organization to pay postage only for those donors who return a gift, so is a 1st class postage stamp on all reply envelopes worth the cost?

Let’s face it: it’s risky business using 1st class postage on your reply envelope. To manage your risk, analyze your donor database. If you identify 1,000 lapsed donors who’ve previously supported your organization at $100, you’ll need to reactivate only five donors to pay for the $460 in 1st class postage on your reply envelope.

If you want to have staying power with your donors, take the first step: look under the hood and analyze your data. In my experience, it’s the best ticket to direct mail success.–Barb Waller